Four major pillars that are constantly moving are the factors that largely determine the dynamics of the global situation, according to American analysts: demographic-economy–climate-technology. The future of humanity should not be considered to be threatened; otherwise, panic would dominate. However, understanding how things work is crucial to protect ourselves from unpleasant surprises. Analysts in the United States have struggled to not only make a guess about what the future holds but also to figure out which of the parameters are vital for the future reality.
As far as the demographic matter is concerned, although the world’s population is projected to increase further by 1.4 billion to reach 9.2 billion in 2040, the key trend is slowing growth on a global scale and especially the aging population in Europe and East Asia. At the same time, urbanization will continue at an undiminished pace, with urban residents reaching 2/3 of the world’s population, up from 56% today. Demographic changes are expected to boost migration flows. They will put many governments of developed countries under intense pressure. Maintaining social gains in education and health will not be easy, and challenging situations may appear.
This warning comes to reinforce the forecasts for global finances in the post-COVID world. Particular emphasis is placed on soaring state and private debts, which threaten to derail the global economy and reduce fiscal policy margins by national governments. To this crucial problem, three more destabilizing factors are added. Initially, we have a tendency to disrupt globalization and strengthen protectionism in international trade. In addition, there is the weakening of national governments in the face of the colossal companies-platforms that control the digital economy. Finally, we will probably face the expansion of flexible employment at the expense of well-paid, stable work due to generalized automation.
The third major factor is climate change, which occupies a leading role in the world’s evolution for the first time. Despite the commitments of governments to reduce pollutants, any progress will not prevent global warming and the thickening of extreme weather events, with disastrous consequences, especially in the developing world. Inadequate access to drinking water, food, and energy will strengthen political instability and migration waves.
Last but not least, the fourth axis of influence is technology. Here, we emphasize the expected spectacular advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, smart materials, and biotechnology. Indicatively, by 2025 the devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to reach 64 million and in 2040 to be in the order of trillions. But here, too, the tones are more alarming. New technologies will exacerbate, according to analysts. Issues related to personal data, democratic freedoms and existential issues with the emerging forms of Man-Machine symphysis are expected to appear.
The changes in these four spheres lead to controversial situations. In this new world, which is highly uncertain, restless, and fragmented, citizens lose their trust in governments and leaders. The result is that people turn to familiar groups of like-minded people to gain a sense of community and security. They turn to groups with strong national, religious, or cultural identities or communities for specific interests and objectives, such as the environment.
Perhaps these are not the only pillars that will affect changes in the near future, but this is the point to which analysts can predict. The parameter of people’s reaction to all this has not been considered. Globalization implies that response may be hard to find as society is immature. Changes are so fast that people do not seem to keep up with their fast pace. Besides, no one guarantees that society’s reaction will be in the right direction.
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